James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone to SAM. Probably inevitable once Ryan move was announced. Obviously Michigan thinking more along the lines of the Stevie Brown style LB/S hybrid there, as Allen Gant is your other SAM at the moment.
And with this shift comes another:
Hoke said will run more Over defense as opposed to Under.
Last year 5 was Clark, 3 Black, 1 Washington/Pipkins, 5 Heitzman/Beyer, LB Ryan, W Ross, M Morgan.
Michigan will run more of this:
Upshot is the MLB gets significantly more protection, the WLB has to be able to take on more blocks (everyone has to take on blocks) and the SAM can be a lighter player as long as the three-tech and SDE create trouble when single-teamed.
This is a significant change, as you can see by everyone flopping about on the depth charts. While it's not switching to a 3-3-5 and back six times in three years, it does signal uncertainty.
A move to the over does make the Ryan move make a bit more sense but either DE spot is probably a better location for him unless he's suddenly a savant.
Heitzman to TE. With Henry seemingly locking down three-tech that potentially bounces out one of Strobel/Wormley/Godin to SDE, where Brennen Beyer is probably your starter anyway. Heitzman gives Michigan a shot at blocking someone, anyone, and won't be missed.
This would be a good time to remind you that Hoke told the gathered folks at the Detroit Athletic Club that Jake Butt would be back by game three; even if that's a weirdly specific prediction this far out given Jake Ryan's recovery timeine that would be about right.
Shallman to H-back. He wasn't already at H-back?
Ross Douglas to RB. Supposedly had been running there on the scout team and impressing. Michigan does need another bullet there with the loss of Rawls and Toussaint and no recruits filling in the gaps, and meanwhile Ross was at best sixth on the CB depth chart. Kind of doubt he makes much impact this year with Hayes presumably a lot like him and more experienced.
David Dawson to (left) tackle. I'd been telling people Dawson was likely to be the G/T tweener thrust outside by a lack of depth, but even I thought he'd be assigned right tackle duties since he's 6'4". Nope. According to Hoke, the current and incredibly nominal first team line reads Dawson-Bosch-Glasgow-Kalis-Braden.
Erik Magnuson is all but certain to side into that LT spot when he returns, leaving Bosch and Dawson to duke it out on the right. You can read Dawson on the left as an endorsement since that's the most important spot, or you can read Braden on the right as an endorsement since they may expect him to start and want to get him settled in at the position he'll play.
The other guy to watch out for is Patrick Kugler, who could bounce Glasgow out to one of the guard spots and give Michigan some depth.
David Dawson's soap opera recruitment was explosive and momentarily depressing but worked out for the best in the end. An early Michigan commit, Dawson had other coaches in his ear and gave into their pitchfork whispers, taking a visit to Florida that the Michigan coaches were blindsided by. They yanked his scholarship offer, Florida seemed not to have room for him—or he just didn't like it much and wanted to stay close to home—and a reeling Dawson started saying unwise things on twitter and putting Ohio State and Michigan State at the top of his list. The jilt was on.
Meanwhile all of this was happening in the immediate aftermath of the tragic death of Dawson's father, a Department of Transportation employee who was struck and killed by a motorist as he attempted to help a guy pulled over to the side of the road. If any recruit has ever deserved a vision quest, it's Dawson.
Dawson's emotions were on his sleeve on Twitter, and eventually they moved away from jilted to regretful. His heart was still in Ann Arbor. So he did a thing. He sucked it up, talked to the coaches, and got them to offer once more. Hatchet buried, Dawson took a moment for dignity and committed shortly after. And they lived happily ever after.
What the last six months have been like for him: It has been crazy. I'm glad it's over. I'm not going to miss this. I'm thankful for the coaches that talked to me, but I'm so happy with Michigan.
This is good because Dawson is really good. You can see by the rankings about that the sites have him in the top handful of guards in the country, and since he was a Cass kid those rankings are backed by camp after camp after camp. He was excellent at all of these. I was checking out some 1-on-1s for the Taco Charlton post and stumbled onto a few Dawson reps mixed in. At this point I've seen a fair share of those things and as you might imagine, that's a drill heavily slanted towards the defense. So when Dawson stoned—like, stood up and slow-danced with—OSU commit Billy Price, my interest was piqued.
But don't take my word for it. Take everyone's. Steve Wiltfong($) caught him at SMSB last year, when the main event was Dawson versus touted CA DE Joe Mathis:
David Dawson is one mean cuss. The Michigan commit violently took it to sought after defensive lineman Joe Mathis in two easily won matches of tire tug-a-war. In 1-on-1s, he was a bully of an offensive lineman, going back and forth with Mathis and dominating nearly everyone else he faced. He delivers a good punch and has a great base. Has really reshaped his body from the season and is down 25 pounds to 280. You could tell the nation’s No. 9 offensive guard is not carrying much extra weight on his 6-foot-5 frame.
One mean cuss! If only this had been said about Chris Fox we would be in business, man. I might call Fox "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" anyway. Someone call him a mean cuss.
This was far from an isolated evaluation. Both ESPN and 247 named him the top overall performer at the Columbus NFTC camp (the one that happened mere days after his father passed). 247:
1. David Dawson, OL, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech. A player with good length, Dawson showed good athleticism as an edge protector in one-on-ones but really separated himself with his finisher’s mentality. Dawson really fought to win his reps in one-on-ones and many of those reps he won with authority.
The nation's No. 1 offensive guard dominated during one-on-ones, earning MVP honors. Quite possibly there has not been a lineman this year that showcased the power and quickness Dawson did with his initial punch. The future Wolverine is ahead of his years, demonstrating nearly flawless technique in his pass-protection setting.
Various other reviews talk about Dawson in terms that would be uncomplimentary if we were not talking about a football player. 247's Clint Brewster:
Dawson is a bully. Dawson is tough as nails and wont shy away from anyone. He has a great base and an extremely strong core. His technique is nearly flawless and he does a great job with hand-placement and just simply overpowering his opponent.
Dawson looks thin at 6-5, 305 pounds - almost like a linebacker - and if that weight is accurate, he has the frame to play at well over 320 pounds in college without sacrificing any of his athleticism. … nearly-dominant in one-on-one drills, pancaking defensive linemen on occasion (something that's not all that common in these drills), and only losing a couple reps, both when he was wrong-footed by a speed rush.
You get the idea. A mean cuss with dominating strength. Probably. ESPN's evaluation is kind of meh for a guy who they rate the #2 guard in the country—a symptom of their fire and forget evaluation style, perhaps:
… very good size, looks to have a thick lower body and the room to potentially add some more good mass… displays the tools to be a productive run and pass blocker. In the run game, he does a very good job with hand placement and will work to reroute his hands when he can't initially gain positioning. He maintains a good base and can generate good leg drive to create push. … playing with his hand down more in the run game could help him to regulate his pad level better. He displays good pull/trap ability and is able to stay under control, locate and get a hat on active second level targets. … doesn't wow you in any particular way, but he is a big kid with the tools to be a good, well-rounded and productive college lineman.
I'm just excising all the stuff about playing lower from now on, as we can agree that there has never been an OL or DL evaluation that does not mention pad level.
Dawson's abilities extended to actual football in pads last fall. Since Dawson was a Cass guy and not Delano Hill (ie, committed to Iowa during the season), Ace had multiple opportunities to check him out. Ace, like everyone else, was a fan. Dawson versus Orchard Lake St. Mary's:
OL David Dawson (2013 commit): Dawson has reached the point where I almost assume that he'll dominate. While the Cass Tech line as a whole struggled, Dawson was a bright spot, getting huge push in the run game and holding up well on the edge in pass protection. His mean streak was once again on full display as he consistently played to—and through—the whistle, and it was obvious that OLSM defenders were frustrated going up against him.
… repeatedly paved the way for big run and physically dominated the man across from him. Dawson has outstanding technique, getting his hands right into the defender and knocking him off the ball. He's also one of the quickest linemen I've seen off the snap; at times, it looked like he was false-starting, but it was just a really good jump. On nearly every play he was the first lineman on either side to get off the snap and set.
… stellar at left tackle, as usual, paving the way for a big day on the ground and keeping QB Jayru Campbell upright in pass protection. … Cass Tech actually pulled Dawson on several run plays—linebackers had little hope of shedding his blocks and often found themselves being escorted several yards downfield. Dawson's reputation of playing to—and through—the whistle is well-earned.
If we can't call him The Fantastic Mr. Fox we might go with David "To And Through" Dawson. Sonny, you don't know about mean cusses these days. Let me tell you about Ol' To And Through. Must have been dickety-six or dickety-seven when he staved a cow's face in on the field. You see, the 'hioans were so desp'rate to prevent their tackles from being flung into the stands like so many Joe Bauserman passes that they press-ganged any livestock they came across, hopin' Ol' To And Through wouldn't stave their faces in. No such luck. Cartilage everywhere. That's why 'hio State changed their nickname to the Bleeding Sobbing Noseless Cows. True story. Fetch me my robot arms, boy.
Dawson did have some technical issues, but ones he worked through. When Mike Farrell caught him at the Rivals Five Star Challenge last year he noted that Dawson tended to dominate reps or get blown through:
Dawson showed a great punch off the snap, and when he got his hands on opponents, he dominated them. However, when his first punch wasn't effective, defensive linemen went past him with ease. With Dawson, it was either win or lose within the first few seconds of each rep.
Dawson has become more patient in two short weeks…. showed the ability to get out, move his feet, keep his arms extended and not rely on a big punch off the snap. This allowed him to effectively ride defenders outside the target area and let him use his long arms much more effectively.
Tim Sullivan also noted that sometimes Dawson's aggressiveness was a detriment:
Dawson has a nasty attitude, and wants to see the player across from him humiliated by the time the whistle blows. Unfortunately, his aggressiveness gets the better of him sometimes, and he'll lunge for the defender instead of locking on and driving. It's effective at the high school level, but he won't be dominant in college without better technique.
That stuff will get hammered out, as Dawson seems to be a coachable guy. You've got the quick-turnaround development story just above and another couple notes about Dawson picking things up quickly as he moved around in various camp environments and across various OL positions. Another Five-Star note:
Though pass protection on the interior is completely different than at tackle he made a seamless transition. He has a strong base and used his lower body strength to hold the big noseguards at bay. Dawson should prove to be invaluable in Ann Arbor because of his versatility and willingness to play wherever he is needed.
…impressed in a very important way Tuesday. It's one thing to have the physical talent the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder possess, but he very much impressed from a cerebral standpoint. Dawson knew assignments, and received praise for that from the coaching staff in a setting in which many linemen look lost on day one and two.
While we are lacking the rapturous quote from the coach about how this guy should be raffled off to the most eligible debutantes in a three-state radius, evident coachability is at least a nod in that direction.
Why Chris McDonald? I had to give up on a reasonable Michigan comparison here. There hasn't been a Michigan guard this century that seems even a little like Dawson except Baas, who I just used for Kugler, and Hutchinson, who I used for Kalis last year. I mean: Heinige, Moosman, Lentz, Kraus, Omameh, Mitchell… none of these folks really evoke mean-cuss run-oriented guard.
So, McDonald. Dawson has higher upside than McDonald, who topped out as an honorable All Big Ten, undrafted FA type, but in terms of how they might play it's a decent fit. TFY Draft's scouting report on McDonald:
Positive: Athletically limited offensive lineman who gets the most from his ability. Strong, stays square, and controls defenders at the point of attack. Keeps his head on a swivel, shows good awareness, and works well with linemates. Keeps the defender in front of him and jolts opponents with good hand punch.
Negative: Gets tall, which robs him of leverage. Stiff and ineffective blocking in motion.
Dawson has more athleticism than a guy ranked in the teens in Michigan his recruiting year; other than that, seems accurate. McDonald was a good pass protector for a guard—one sack allowed in his final two years—and was pretty much the only consistent player on MSU's line the last couple years, earning a reputation as a hard-nosed drive blocker first and foremost.
I did think about re-using the two stars above, particularly Hutch, but I like to keep the bazooka in the holster as much as possible.
Guru Reliability: Exacting. Consensus, high profile, camps, All Star game.
Variance: Low-plus. I never give OL a "low." Other than that, Dawson is already an advanced technician, comes with a mean streak attached, and doesn't have to add too much weight or reshape his body much.
Ceiling: High. Maybe lacks perfect NFL size. Maybe. He's a guard and it seems like you can't give a guard "vast" for a similar reason you can't give it to a middle linebacker. But I mean. You guys.
General Excitement Level: Very high. He has all the things you want. Usually I look owlishly at guys who waver all over the place, but I mean… if you don't have your decisions go a little wonky when you're 17 and your dad dies, you are a robot.
Projection: Is OL, redshirt.
After that he will probably have to push past an established starter if he wants to see playing time. He's rooting for Ben Braden to win the left guard job, as Braden will move outside next year. If it's Glasgow he's got a tougher road to hoe.
Either way it' going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight with Kyle Kalis presumably on track to being a four-year starter, Kyle Bosch equally touted and already on campus, Chris Bryant still being huge, Blake Bars existing, and Glasgow being just as large and possibly more experienced than anyone. Oh and Mason Cole is coming in behind this madness with plenty of recruiting credentials to his name.
I have no idea who wins that melee. I do know that whoever does is going to kick ass. Gun to my head, I cower, void my bowels, and accept my fate. And bet on Dawson. Or Bosch. Please don't put a gun to my head about this.
It's an annual rite of fan dorkiness each year to try to be the first to guess which numbers the incoming freshmen will be given by obsessively google stalking them. Sometimes I have some inside knowledge from a recruit who was promised his digit, or tweeted his preferences or something. Here's how I did last year:
# in HS
7 and 14
84 or 68
21 if available, or 31
5 and 15
2 and 18
32 or 6 or 23
41 or 32
3 and 6 and 9
63 or 93 or 86
74 or 68
Four out of 22 ain't…well yes it is. It was bad. This article is useless. Let's continue it anyway; I swear to do better.
Getting to know you. Each coach has his own tendencies with this so we'll get better at it in time. With Hoke, he seems to like having consecutive numbers in the same position group, perhaps for mentoring purposes because they sit next to each other in the locker room. It's far from a rule, but it's a trend. Carr rarely let a player share a specialist's digit, but Hoke doesn't seem to have a problem with it, for example Wormley and Hagerup share a number, and walk-on tight end Alex Mitropoulus-Rundus (I'm gonna just start calling him "Alex M-R") has the same digit as backup punter Kenny Allen. Rich Rodriguez was far more apt to share numbers, and the single digits were nearly always doubled up; Hoke has said in the past that he doesn't like doing that, and the practice has been limited—as of spring just 5, 12 and 34 had scholarship recruits in both numbers, adding 54 and 56 to those double-occupied by players on the two-deep.
The roster lies. The official MGoBlue.com roster still doesn't have DeAnthony Hardison, that nifty RB you saw in the Spring Game. He's #18. Also a practice insider told me Anthony Capatina is playing slot receiver, not "DB" as he's listed on the depth chart. Also weirdly missing from that roster is #79 right tackle Dan Gibbs (a Seaholm Mape!!!), a 2012 preferred walk-on whose twitter profile pic is him riding an oliphant:
Legends/Special #s: 1 because Braylon's scholarship killed the fun, unless Gallon gets it. It won't come as much of a surprise to you that 2 will probably be entering the Legends program this season. There will also be some push for 16, and I doubt it'll be assigned to an offensive player immediately. 11 for the Wisterts, 21 for Desmond, and 87 for Ron Kramer are currently open; it is likely they'll be assigned to veterans whose digits might then be made available if it happens before the season. Bennie's 47 and Jerry's 48 remain occupied by current players and there's no way a second guy will get them. And I've been told they're still working on the Harmon family with 98. Anyway they won't go to freshmen.
Already worn on both sides: 5 (Courtney Avery and Justice Hayes), 6 (Raymon Taylor and Brian Cleary), 12 (Gardner and Allen Gant), 13 (Terry Richardson and Alex Swieca), 15 (James Ross and Shaun Austin), 34 (Jeremy Clark and Brendan Gibbons), 43 (Chris Wormley and Will Hagerup), 54 (Richard Ash and Jareth Glanda), 56 (Ondre Pipkins and Joey Burzynski), 69 (Willie Henry and Erik Gunderson), and 95 (Anthony Capatina and Michael Jocz).
Walk-ons with soft claims: Every year there's a Jon Keizer on the roster who thinks his number is safe, then some top running back recruit in the country (right: from Scout) runs him over with star power (dadada, didda-da diddadidda…). Scout teamers without scholarships often have their numbers taken, for example Charlie Zeller was 19 on the 2012 spring roster and Paul Gyarmati was sitting on 99, but Devin Funchess and Matt Godin nabbed those digits last fall. This year they are15 (Shaun Austin—note that Ross has it on D), 18 (DeAnthony Hardison—note that Countess has it on D), 27 (Jon Keizer), 36 (AJ Pearson—note that Kerridge has it on O), 42 (Dylan Esterline), 46 (Clark Grace), 49 (Brad Anlauf), 51 (Bobby Henderson), 59 (Mark Lawson), 63 (Ben Pliska), 66 (Dan Liesman), 70 (Kris Mateus), 79 (Dan Gibbs), (91 (Alex M-R, though Kenny Allen wears it too), and 95 (Anthony Capatina and Mike Jocz). The other walk-ons I didn't mention (Dever, Cleary, Glanda, Burzynski, Reynolds, Allen, Gunderson, Jocz and the Glasgows) are either on the two-deep already or in the mix.
You just said Pi. We're Michigan fergodsakes. All the constants—φ, ζ(3), α and δ, Euler's e, γ, λ, K, r, and Ω—ought to be fair game, and if someone takes √-1 and uses the nickname "Impossible" he will be my favorite for ever and ever.
Twitter is vast, and there are tens of tweets I don’t see every week. If you happen across anything you think should be noted in TWIT, feel free to tweet it to @Bry_Mac. And while you’re there, you can follow @Bry_Mac. Or not. But do.
Don’t Worry, No One Will See That Tweet
Sometimes people have a hard time understanding the “social” part of social media. Take, for instance, Oregon DE commit Davin Bellamy. Last weekend, Mr. Bellamy took a visit to Eugene, and had a fine time. Unfortunately for him, he decided to (a) document that fine time, and (b) share that documentation with the world. See if you can identify the problem with this picture he tweeted (hint: it’s NOT the bong on the table):
Uh oh… backlighting.
Okay, I lied. It's the bong on the table. And while the state of Oregon did legalize weed recently, I’m pretty sure the NCAA didn’t [ED: Wrong hippie state. Somehow Oregon HASN'T legalized weed]. But I’m more concerned about the thought process. Anyone who has ever posted a picture to social media has done the same three-point check: 1) look to see if your fly is down; (2) be sure your hair isn’t doing that thing it does sometimes; (3) check for drug paraphernalia. In Davin’s defense, he was two out of three.
The other briefly shared photo that made the rounds was from none other than LaQuon Treadwell, who totally put those suggestions of Ole Miss funny business to rest by allegedly posting this little number:
Now obviously we can’t be sure that this is Treadwell. Or that this is Treadwell’s cash. Or that the cash was ill-begotten. There are plenty of reasons a teenager would have a few hundred dollars in cash, and only 93% of those reasons would violate NCAA rules. But yeah, I betchya your compliance office will probably have a word with you.
Hugh Freeze, on the other hand, is having none of your insinuations, no matter how ridiculously well-founded. Not long after the Treadwell pic made the rounds, the Ole Miss head coach took to Twitter to defend his recruits (and his program):
He has since deleted the tweet.* You have to respect the coach for defending his guys, but I bet the poor schlub in the compliance office would prefer if you didn’t direct every troll south of the Mason-Dixon line directly to his inbox. The poor guy gets to the office, fires up the coffee maker, and HOLY HELL why do I have seven thousand emails with the subject “CHEATERZ!!!!!1”?
[*NOTE TO TWITTER USERS: Please stop deleting your questionable tweets. Once they’re there, you can’t get rid of them. You’re just making my column less visibly appealing. ]
I Tried ‘Perspective’ Once. Didn’t Care For It.
David Dawson is one of the jewels of this recruiting class, and by all accounts is a genuinely nice kid who has been through quite a bit in recent years. He also took one of the more circuitous routes to signing day, which Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) documented in a recent article about how recruits are treated on social media. And I’m sure that despite his brief decommitment, Michigan fans everywhere maintained perspective and treated him with the utmost respect, especially on social media.
Fans sent him Twitter and Facebook messages telling him they hoped he broke his leg or that he was a "piece of s---."
Worst of all, some fans took shots at his late father.
"They said a couple things about my dad, like, 'He didn't teach you to keep your word,'" Dawson said.
Or not. On the bright side, the article makes clear that Michigan isn’t alone in treating kids poorly, which, hurray we're not worse than Clemson (insert sarcastic slow clap here). The moral high ground we occupied when Buckeye fans were wishing gout upon Kyle Kalis seems to be tenuous. Obviously we’re talking the least stable segments of every fanbase, but let this serve as your reminder: tweeting recruits is generally not cool, but tweeting ill-wishes to kids is even less cool.
From that same article, though, comes possibly my favorite panic-inducing out-of-context tweet of all time, in which Christian Hackenberg announces his dinner plans.
Canes is some sort of food establishment; Christian Hackenberg declared his intention to eat food. Happy Valley flips out thinking he was decommitting for Miami. I guarantee the words “NCAA conspiracy” were used. Crootin, man. Crootin.
[OBLIGATORY SCOLD: This is your weekly reminder to NOT TWEET OR FACEBOOK MESSAGE OR SEND SMOKE SIGNALS TO RECRUITS. I asked John Infante (@John_Infante, he of the Bylaw Blog and the overwhelming NCAA rule knowledge) to clarify, and he confirms what others have said: it is an NCAA violation. This remains the case until the student actually enrolls. The guys who just signed NLIs are still “prospects” to the NCAA. They are also high schoolers. So, no.]
You may remember Khaliel Rodgers as an OL with whom Michigan had a brief flirtation when there were rumors of a commit wavering last summer. He also attends the same high school as Irvin-Sills, so attention was paid. Film was evaluated. Y U NO ELITE trolls were summoned. And, of course, within a half-hour the commitment was debunked by Sam Webb and others. This was predictable, of course, because Irvin-Sills had never been on a recruiting visit, appeared on anyone’s radar, or, you know, been offered a scholarship.
The wisdom of The Who is great and all, but I’d bet a shiny new quarter that the next time someone tweets something like this, we’ll go all salmon of Capistrano all over again.
Look Away, Dave Brandon. Nothing to See Here
You’ve probably noticed that the “nameplate with no names” thing has caught on pretty big over the last couple of years. Either that, or you found it very odd that Air Force managed to field a team entirely out of guys named Service. Last week Akron tried to take it to the next level by putting the team’s twitter handle (@ZipsMBB) on the jerseys:
Synergy, we think.
Unfortunately, the NCAA decided to be a killjoy and put the kibosh on the idea. If Michigan had tried to do something like this, Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork would have a heck of a day. But this is Akron, so from my perspective this would have been fun. They aren’t trying to Create the Future. They’re just trying to grab some attention for a team that averaged 3,400 fans per home game last year.
If you ask me, Akron should have even taken it a step further; they should have put individual players’ twitter handles on the jerseys. And then they should have made Bill Walton call the game. The joy of hearing Walton have to utter phrases like “@I_B_Smooth41 needs to hedge harder on those ball screens” or “great job by @AkronBalla4Lyfe of recognizing the mismatch down low” would almost make up for the pain of having to listen to Bill Walton.
How to Make Friends and Influence Good ol’ Boys
Reuben Foster has had a fun year. He originally committed to Alabama, then in July, he switched his commitment to Auburn (which is like switching from Michigan to North Korea). He felt so confident in his decision that he got a rather large Auburn tattoo on his forearm, which must have made for some awkward conversation at his switcharoo back to Alabama on Monday. He then took to Twitter to explain everything to everyone:
Auburn had no problem taking him up on his invitation to hate him. Edits are mine; these fans did not care for SFW language.
This is my shocked face /makes normal face.
Unrelated Tweet of the Week
Joe Theismann had an interesting theory about the Super Bowl power outage.
It is Signing Day 2013, and if you weren't aware, Michigan has a pretty, pretty good class. With this post—and its accompanying defense post (coming tomorrow)—I'll attempt to give you a solid overview of the class, its strengths and weaknesses, and hand out a few superlatives. Let's start with a look at the offensive class as a whole and their final rankings from the recruiting services—click on each player's name to see their commitment post:
This offensive line class is arguably the best in the country, finding strength both in numbers (six) and quality (five of the six are consensus four-stars or above and made All-American teams). As Michigan continues to fill in the holes left by some disastrous offensive line recruiting under Rich Rodriguez, this couldn't have come at a better time.
Among the group, guard Kyle Bosch is the most likely to crack the two-deep early; he's on campus early and has college-ready size—Michigan lists him at 6'5", 311 lbs.—to go with a polished set of skills. He won't start right away (let's hope) but could factor in as a backup. Center Patrick Kugler—the son of longtime NFL OL coach and current UTEP head coach Sean Kugler—might be the best of the bunch, though. He'll hit campus as the most physically gifted Wolverine at the position, and while he shouldn't be forced to play right away, he should be a multi-year starter down the road.
Honorable Mention: Running Back, Quarterback.
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: No elite receiver
Yes, this class lacks a blue-chip wideout. Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes are both big targets who can go up and get the ball, while Da'Mario Jones could be a playmaker in the slot, but none are can't-miss prospects. This issue is mitigated somewhat by Michigan's strong recruiting at tight end—get a couple playmakers there and the pressure comes off the receivers in the passing game—but you'd still like to see a top-flight guy on the outside.
Honorable Mention: The only other issue with the offensive side of the class is the lack of a second quarterback for depth purposes, something the coaches decided wasn't necessary. Otherwise, every need was filled.
MOST LIKELY TO START FROM DAY ONE: Derrick Green
Not only is Green the top-ranked recruit in the class, but he comes in at a position of great uncertainty and, as of late, middling production. He's got the body of an NFL running back as a high school senior and is a perfect fit for Al Borges's ideal offense. It's unknown whether Fitz Toussaint will be ready to start the season after his ugly leg injury and his production was lacking in 2012 anyway; Thomas Rawls failed to impress in his stead. Green's toughest competition for the bulk of the carries may even come from fellow 2013 commit DeVeon Smith, arguably the best back in the state of Ohio. Either way, expect a freshman (or two) to make a big impact in the backfield next season.
Honorable Mention: DeVeon Smith, Jake Butt
SUREST THING: Patrick Kugler
Covered in part above, Kugler is as close as you'll get to a can't-miss offensive line recruit. At 6'5", 280 lbs. before setting foot on campus, he's got better size than any Michigan center of recent vintage. His father spent nine years coaching offensive line in the NFL, and Patrick's film makes it apparent that he's absorbed a lot of his father's teaching—from a technical standpoint, he's very advanced for his age. He participated in the Under Armour AA Game and held up very well against some of the best defensive linemen in the country.
Kugler's only competition at center right now is Jack Miller, who's been groomed to take over the position for a couple years but was too undersized to see the field as a redshirt freshman in 2012. Miller should step in and start in 2013—it's unrealistic to expect Kugler to have enough command of the offense to make the O-line calls after a few weeks on campus—but it's going to be hard to keep Kugler off the field in 2014 and beyond.
Honorable Mention: Derrick Green, Kyle Bosch
BOOM OR BUST: Logan Tuley-Tillman
Offensive lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman has the prototypical left tackle frame at 6'7", 307 pounds. He's also a relative newcomer to the game of football and spent his high school days overpowering opponents with sheer size and strength—as a result, he's got a long way to go from a technical standpoint. At last summer's Sound Mind Sound Body camp, Tuley-Tillman and David Dawson both got extensive work in with Michigan OL coach Darrell Funk—Funk used Dawson as an example for how to execute certain technical aspects of line play, then spent a good deal of time trying to get Tuley-Tillman to that level.
If Tuley-Tillman can put it all together, he's the future at left tackle and could even develop into an NFL prospect. With so much ground to cover, however, he could also get buried on the depth chart by more polished players. It should help that Tuley-Tillman is already on campus—with a redshirt year all but guaranteed, he'll have plenty of time to work on the fundamentals before worrying about seeing the field.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris, Chris Fox
MGOSCOUTED STAMP OF APPROVAL: Jake Butt
Among the players I checked out last fall—on offense: Morris, Shallman, York, Dawson, Butt, and Hill—tight end Jake Butt really stood out with his performance on the field. Playing against cross-town rival Pickerington Central—featuring fellow Wolverine Taco Charlton—he hauled in nine catches for 93 yards and a TD while also making an impact at defensive end. Some of my impressions from that game:
Butt did a great job of snatching the ball away from his body and caught everything thrown his way. While he could be a little sharper out of his breaks, he runs crisp routes and positions his body well to give his quarterback a big target while warding off the defender. He was able to find space up the seam on multiple occasions but was also comfortable working on the perimeter, at one point catching back-to-back out routes when Central cheated to the inside in coverage. He's not going to juke past too many defenders after the catch, but he usually finds a way to fall forward for extra yardage.
At 6'6", 235 lbs., Butt has an ideal frame for the position, and his blocking really impressed me as well. He's another early enrollee, and I'd be surprised if he took a redshirt—he may not start from day one, but he's a better blocker than Devin Funchess and could give Michigan a scary one-two combo at tight end/H-back.
Honorable Mention: David Dawson, Shane Morris
THE SHANE MORRIS CATEGORY: Shane Morris
An overview of Michigan's 2013 class is incomplete without mentioning the team's quarterback of the future. Morris dropped from five-star status on Rivals and 247 after a senior season marred by mono and an uneven performance at the Under Armour AA Game, but he still has the highest ceiling of any of Michigan's commits.
The first thing that stands out about Morris is his arm strength—the ball explodes out of his hand with seemingly little effort. When he's on, it's a sight to behold. The problem—and ultimately why he dropped in the rankings—is that he's yet to show consistency; he still needs work reading defenses and relies too heavily on his arm strength to fit the ball into windows that sometimes aren't there.
Those expecting Morris to come in and take the starting job need to temper their expectations severely—the job is Devin Gardner's, and barring injury it'll stay that way. Morris could very well come in and earn the backup job over Russell Bellomy, however, and with a couple years of development he could be special.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris
SLEEPER: Da'Mario Jones
Michigan snatched WR Da'Mario Jones, a Westland John Glenn product, away from Central Michigan, so he certainly flew under the radar for the bulk of the recruiting cycle. That may have been the product of playing in a league that doesn't get much exposure, however—Allen Trieu reported($) that UCLA, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State, and Georgia all came to see him last week, though no offers came when he made it clear he was ticketed for Ann Arbor.
While the other two receivers in the class, Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes, are big guys who were on the receiving end of a lot of jump balls in high school, Jones is a guy who's shown his ability to work underneath and break big plays after the catch. With Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon back in 2013, he may not see the field right away, but down the road there's a clear role he can fill in the slot—a position that, granted, may be marginalized by the increased emphasis on tight ends—and nobody else on the roster who fits that mold after next season.
That leaves Michigan seemingly down to two options for the last two spots in the class. The first is VA RB Derrick Green, one of many prospects (mostly 2014 recruits at this point) to receive an in-school visit from Michigan this week—in his case, Brady Hoke and Fred Jackson ($). Scout's Michael Clark penned a lengthy (and free) profile on Green, focusing on his rise from 268-pound freshman to nation's top running back [emphasis mine]:
“The first time we saw him, he was eighth-grader and we were doing 7-on-7 (drills) and he came out and watched,” said Kane. “He was a little chunky at the time. He said what a lot of kids say -- I want to be a running back. We said OK, that’s fine. But in your mind, you’re thinking he’d probably be a good looking offensive guard.”
You know the story by now: Green cut down to 220 pounds and by his sophomore year was starting for Hermitage. Work ethic should not be an issue here.
Michigan's other main target is TX TE Durham Smythe, who also received a visit this week. 247's Jason Sapp caught up with Smythe to run down his five finalists—Michigan, Oregon, and Stanford lead the pack, with Nebraska and Notre Dame under consideration—and here's what he had to say about the Wolverines ($):
Michigan – “The biology/medial program at Michigan is among the best in the nation, and since that is what I want to study, that was something that draws me in about them. Also, the fact that they are making the switch to a two tight end, pro-style offense is attractive as well.”
Smythe says a decision will come on signing day or "a few days prior," and he's got visits lined up to Oregon and Michigan, with Nebraska and Notre Dame in the running for his final official.
[Hit THE JUMP for a rundown of the final 2013 Top247, the latest on Drake Harris, and much more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's All-American games, high profile names emerging (or re-emerging) as targets, and a potentially wavering 2014 commit.
Spill The Beans, Green
Five-star linebacker Reuben Foster: visit on tap?
Michigan didn't land one of their remaining high-profile targets over the weekend when FL S Leon McQuay III committed to USC. They appear poised to get better news regarding VA RB Derrick Green, however—the nation's top running back has maintained Michigan as his leader in recent weeks and told Rivals($) after the Army All-American Game, "I know where I'm going." Green plans to announce sometime this month and it's safe to expect good news barring a sudden change of heart.
While USC snagged a Michigan target, it's possible the Wolverines return the favor after CA WR Sebastian LaRue decommitted from the Trojans; the four-star told 247's Clint Brewster that he plans to talk to Coach Ferrigno about a potential visit to Ann Arbor ($). LaRue currently has a visit to Notre Dame scheduled and is also looking at Miami, Arkansas, and Texas A&M.
The Wolverines may also have suddenly found themselves in the mix for the nation's top linebacker recruit, Alabama prospect Reuben Foster, after he connected with commit Henry Poggi at the Under Armour game. Poggi reportedly alerted Foster to Michigan's potential interest and convinced him to get in touch with the coaches, and Foster looks to be following through, per Sam Webb ($):
Once Foster and Michigan begin having more conversations, the 6'1, 240 pounder says it’s likely he'll get up to Ann Arbor for a visit at some point before signing day.
"I don't know but the odds are pretty darn good cause I'm cool with [Poggi's] dad that I just met this week --- very cool with him," said Foster.
With a month to go until signing day, it's very late in the game to enter into the recruitment of such a high-profile player, but the former Auburn commit seems to have genuine interest. It's early yet to harbor serious hopes of a commitment, but if a visit materializes it would obviously be fantastic news for Michigan.
A more likely candidate for one of the final few spots is CA OL Cameron Hunt, who spent time with Michigan's contingent of commitments at the UA game. Hunt will take his official to Michigan next weekend, followed by visits to Oregon and Cal, and he told Sam Webb that those three schools comprise his leading trio ($).
[After THE JUMP, video and evaluations of Michigan's All-Americans, the latest on Denzel Ward, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the various All-American bowl practices, the latest on Derrick Green, and (debunked) rumors about a commit taking visits.
L to R: Jourdan Lewis, Dymonte Thomas, Derrick Green, Jake Butt, Chris Fox
Michigan has four commits at the Army All-American Game and many are wondering if they'll soon have a fifth after VA RB Derrick Green jumped into a picture with them (above, via). Green conducted a live chat on Rivals yesterday, reiterating that Michigan is his top school, holding a "small" lead over the field—Auburn, Tennessee, Miami, Florida State, and USC. He also got the Fred Jackson Seal of Approval for this quote:
Comment From Guest
Who would you compare your running style to?
Derrick Green: I compare my running style to a combination of Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker and Trent Richardson
Green mentioned the possibility of committing within the next week or so—though not at the Army game itself—but also stated a desire to take his two remaining official visits even after he commits; if his choice is Michigan, he'd obviously have to talk that out with the coaches.
FL S Leon McQuay III is set to announce on Friday and the sense from insiders is that Florida State—the presumed pick—and USC both hold an edge on Michigan, and quite possibly Vanderbilt does as well. If he holds off on making a decision, which Sam Webb has mentioned as a slight possibility, then the Wolverines could have hope; as it stands, not so much.
Matters are looking better for CA OL Cameron Hunt, at least if Patrick Kugler is to be believed:
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's visitors, Laquon Treadwell's top three, and more.
More To Come?
Michigan's big recruiting weekend delivered as expected, with Cass Tech teammates David Dawson and Delano Hill becoming the 23rd and 24th members of the class of 2013. Dawson is very much a known commodity, Hill less so—Josh Helmholdt caught up to the latter to get some clarity on his future position ($):
"Their plans for me are I am going to start off playing corner," Hill said. "If I don't like playing corner, I can always go back to playing safety. I think I can play all positions in the secondary, so it doesn't matter to me."
Hill played safety in high school but has also displayed impressive cover skills on the camp circuit; at 6'1", he'd give Michigan a bigger corner to line up on the outside.
The Wolverines hosted a surprise visitor last weekend in IN OL Dan Samuelson, a Nebraska commit who recently received a Michigan offer, per Allen Trieu ($). While Samuelson played it coy about his interest in Michigan, a Scout article from last week indicates that he took a big step by making this visit ($) [emphasis mine]:
“I truly didn’t go and look for another offer though. [Michigan] came to me. There is very little interest from me to Michigan. I really don’t think that I will take a visit there. Nebraska said that they would view that as a decommitment. I don’t want to do that. I believe that is where that will stay.”
I doubt the situation changed from Nebraska's end in the span of a few days; it seems likely that Samuelson has given up his spot in their class to see Ann Arbor. And now, 247's Todd Worly reported today that Samuelson's situation could be resolved imminently ($):
Looks like the Wolverines have made an impression and Samuelson plans on having everything figured out by Monday evening.
"I'm going to start calling everyone around 5 (p.m. EST), after I talk to Nebraska and figure things out with them," Samuelson said.
With the recent rumblings that Michigan could take a sixth offensive lineman, plus the above chronology, well... stay tuned.
Michigan also made an impression on another visitor committed to a Big Ten school, linebacker recruit and Wisconsin pledge Marcus Ball. Ball told Todd Worly that Michigan is "a great place," though he's waiting to see who the Badgers hire to replace Bret Bielema before making any decisions about his status with the Badgers ($). For what it's worth, Dymonte Thomas—one of many Michigan commits taking his official visit last weekend—tells Sam Webb that he thinks Ball will make the switch ($):
“I just met [Ball] this weekend, but I think he is going to commit to Michigan too,” said Thomas. “I’m not 100% sure, but I think he really liked us. We’ll see what happens.”
Man, Bielema is going to flip out about that gentleman's agree-- oh, right.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Laquon Treadwell and more.]
Cass Tech OL David Dawson has re-committed to Michigan after a dalliance with Florida previously caused him and the Wolverines to go their separate ways. Dawson convinced Brady Hoke that he was worth re-offering a few weeks back, then committed today on his official visit. He's the fifth offensive lineman in Michigan's 2013 class, which has swelled to 24 overall commits today.
Dawson's previous commitment post is linked above; since he's played an entire summer camp circuit and senior season since then, it's worth taking another look at him.
4*, #8 OG,
4*, #6 OG,
4*, 84, #1 OG,
4*, 94, #6 OG,
The four recruiting sites are all in general agreement about Dawson—he's a consensus four-star and among the top eight guards in the country and 200 players overall. All four list him at 6'4" and between 280 and 290 pounds.
My first time seeing Dawson was at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in June, where he was clearly the best offensive lineman in a field that included Logan Tuley-Tillman and MSU commit Dennis Finley:
Dawson was easily the most impressive lineman present, both from a physical and technical standpoint. He looks like he's in the 280-290 pound range but doesn't appear to be carrying much bad weight at all. He shows an advanced understanding of technique for a high school player; Coach Funk was presiding over the offensive line drills, and when he needed to give an example of what he was looking for, he had Dawson give the demonstration. Dawson displayed very quick feet, shuffled well in pass protection while keeping a solid base, and showed a very strong initial punch.
In one-on-ones, Dawson excelled in a drill that gives a clear edge to the pass-rusher. He got great depth with his initial step and had three or four pancakes (not all of his reps are on my film above). When Dawson did get beat, it was usually when he let the defender get into his body instead of keeping the rusher at bay with his arm punch. The proverbial mean streak was also on full display. On one rep, Dawson got beat off the edge, and the defender went back to his side screaming "Let's go!" and "I'm hungry!"* Dawson didn't appreciate the woofing, asked for an immediate rematch, and buried the guy into the turf.
I also saw him in action for Cass Tech onthreeoccasions this fall, and in each game he dominated. Here's my report from his performance against Orchard Lake St. Mary's:
Dawson has reached the point where I almost assume that he'll dominate. While the Cass Tech line as a whole struggled, Dawson was a bright spot, getting huge push in the run game and holding up well on the edge in pass protection. His mean streak was once again on full display as he consistently played to—and through—the whistle, and it was obvious that OLSM defenders were frustrated going up against him.
There are times where Dawson relies too much on his hand punch in pass protection and stops moving his feet, which is something he'll need to work on, though shouldn't be as much of a concern at guard than if he was slated to play tackle at the next level. Otherwise, I still see a rock-solid lineman who should be a multi-year starter down the road.
While Dawson could get by on size and strength alone at the high school level, he's a very coachable player who's got very advanced technique for his age. Here's Josh Helmholdt on Dawson ($):
1. David Dawson, OL, Detroit Cass Tech: No one jumped out and ran away with the overall top performer nod from the games I saw this weekend, but Dawson played up to his four-star and Rivals250 billing, earning the top spot. Cass Tech destroyed Detroit Northwestern 57-0 Friday afternoon and Dawson only got a half of work, but despite his team running away with the game the 6-foot-4, 282-pound lineman went 100 percent every snap he played. Northwestern had some good size along their defensive line, but Dawson's strength, quickness and especially his technique overwhelmed the opposition.
He possesses very good size, looks to have a thick lower body and the room to potentially add some more good mass in a college weight program. ... In the run game, he does a very good job with hand placement and will work to reroute his hands when he can't initially gain positioning. He maintains a good base and can generate good leg drive to create push. He does need to work to play lower as his pad level can get high. ... He displays good pull/trap ability and is able to stay under control, locate and get a hat on active second level targets. Displays good toughness. As a pass protector, you see a player trying to do the right thing and execute with good technique. He is able to set quickly and maintain good balance. Can deliver a good punch. He can, at times, abandon his technique and chase and lean, and he needs to learn to be patient and stick with his technique.
Well, this wouldn't be a Hello post for an offensive linemen if there wasn't a comment about pad level—Dawson could play lower, though as ESPN noted he played largely out of a two-point stance at tackle. When he's got his hand in the dirt at guard, it should be easier for him to keep leverage.
Overall, Dawson is an ideal fit at guard. He's especially adept at run blocking, gives full effort to—and through—the whistle, and is technically advanced for a high school lineman. I witnessed first-hand his ability to absorb coaching and apply it to his game at the SMSB camp, and I fully expect that he'll be a multi-year starter at guard down the road.
Dawson held offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, EMU, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Mizzou, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Several of the big-name offers—including Florida, Ohio State, and USC—came after his initial commitment.
No stats for offensive linemen.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists a 40 time of 5.54 seconds, which sounds pretty real to me for a high school lineman. One FAKE out of five.
My film of Dawson from the one-on-one portion at SMSB:
I've said my piece on Dawson—he's a major talent at guard and should be a starter there down the road. In a pinch, he could also figure into the rotation at right tackle (or, with lefty Shane Morris at QB, left tackle). With Michigan looking to go MANBALL with their running game, he's a perfect fit up front.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan initially planned on taking five offensive linemen in the class and 24 players overall, but Sam Webb has hinted recently that Michigan could take up to 28 or even 29 players (backdating early enrollees to last year's class) and adding an additional lineman. The Wolverines are still pursuing CO OL Dan Skipper (Tennessee commit) and CA OL Cameron Hunt (Cal commit); Skipper is on campus this weekend and Hunt should visit in January.
Other major targets include VA RB Derrick Green, FL S Leon McQuay III, OH CB Reon Dawson, and newly-offered OH ATH Marcus Ball (Wisconsin commit being recruited as a linebacker).